Break Time? How Often, How Many, & How to Handle | Fourth Wall Events

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Everyone needs a break… and that is doubly true of weary attendees in the middle of a large event. But event breaks and pauses only work well if they are scheduled – which raises a lot of questions about how to handle breaks, and how they should work throughout the event. So we’ve gathered some answers to common questions about how to give your attendees a little time off.

Break Frequency

If you’ve done any research into efficiency or productivity, you probably know this is a complex area with a whole lot of different theories. Let’s make it simple: You have two choices for break times during a presentation. One is a longer intermission-like break in the middle of the presentation that can last half an hour or so. The other choice is more frequent breaks every hour to 90 minutes that last for 10-15 minutes, and may involve activities or other prompts for action. If you have a choice, the more frequent break option is often better – this makes it easier for attendees to absorb the information they just heard, plus giving them numerous opportunities to head to the bathroom.

Break Time Based on Event Length and Time of Day

You should also try to adjust break times based on how long an event or specific presentation lasts – there’s a lot of common sense here. A half-hour presentation probably doesn’t need any break time. A three-hour event probably needs several breaks for optimal flow. Lunch and dinner breaks are nearly mandatory if your event occurs during these times. Keep in mind that mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks are also particularly important for keeping focus and energy levels high.

Break Time Based on Presentation

What sort of presentations are you planning? The type of presentation will give you another important metric for scheduling breaks. If attendees are going to be sitting down for long periods of time while reviewing a lot of data they haven’t seen before, then frequent break times become far more important for stretching, comparing notes, and considering what was just learned. But if presentations are more active, with plenty of team-building exercises or group-based learning, break times aren’t as important because people are naturally moving and discussing on their own.

Breaking Between Sessions

Here’s a key scheduling point that’s easy for new event planning teams to overlook: Breaks between sessions and presentations. Not only do attendees need time to take a break, go over their notes, and gather their things – they may also need time to navigate over to a different part of the venue for the next session (and that’s saying nothing of the presenters). All in all, this requires a 15-20 minute break between sessions simple to allow for organization and movement. Make sure you account for this time in your scheduling.

Telling Your Attendees to Break

How will attendees know that it’s time for a break? Will you tell them? Will you write it down and hope that everyone remembers? Will it be part of your app or calendar? Telling attendees directly that you are holding a short break is the best option – participants are more willing to listen, and it’s a handy way to interrupt presentations that may be going on too long.

For more information on organizing the best event plan, chat with us at Fourth Wall Events and see how we can help out!

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